Background Checks

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All pilots and students in Australia will undergo background checks under a new security program launched by the government. The Australian Security Intelligence Organization and other Aussie agencies will probe the history of everyone who flies before issuing new "tamper-proof photographic licenses." The measures are part of a $93 million (AUD) aviation security package announced by the federal government last week. "Today's announcement of measures ... greatly strengthens the already-robust framework we put in place after the events of Sept. 11," said Transport Minister John Anderson. In addition to pilot background checks, the measures include security IDs for all workers servicing aircraft and a requirement for all airports to upgrade security.

There's $14 million in grants available for smaller airports to do the upgrades. Any aircraft with more than 30 seats will have to have hardened cockpit doors. The government will also spend $8.4 million trying out explosives-detection and drug-sniffing equipment. Opposition politicians said the package was too little, too late, and the airport workers' union said security gaps remain at regional airports.